A connected world will be the new normal in a digital life.
The IoT is a trending topic in today's world and its influence will rapidly overtake the global impact of its predecessor, the mobile Internet. The IoT era will usher in another decade of great changes. This period will be a time when the Internet offers people-to-people and people-to-machine connectivity while also interconnecting anything people can observe or imagine. These things could be as large as an electric generator or factory lathe, or as small as a household fridge, power outlet, or light bulb. Even personal wearables will be interconnectable. 2025 will see a predicted 100 billion connections, 6.5 billion Internet users, and 8 billion smartphones. By then, the world will be interconnected to an unprecedented degree of closeness, and people will enter a fully connected age.
The IoT will also kick off a new wave of industrial revolution. It will imbue inanimate things with intelligence and the ability to "talk". For example, a connected racket can coach its user on how to hit the ball; and a connected toothbrush can monitor dental health or even general well-being and prompt its owner to see a doctor. An increasing network of sensors and surveillance cameras will manifest all the details of the physical world into a digital world. This allows people to better observe and analyze the physical world, and make use of data collected from it, unconstrained by time or space. Full connection will give people a better digital life and enterprises immense business benefits.
A connected world poses great challenges to connections and data management.
The next 10 to 15 years will witness rapid development of the IoT. Progress in IoT technology will help people better observe and shape the world around them. The IoT involves a huge number of connections and large amounts of data. Managing these connections and data will be a considerable difficulty facing service providers and related industry players.
Challenge 1: Creating and Maintaining Reliable Connections
The IoT will be composed of trillions of interconnected devices and sensors. The sheer variety of these devices and sensors means different communication modes and complex mechanisms. The devices are often small in size, which means they require low power consumption, and the devices may need to work in an unstable network environment. These are persistent issues plaguing IoT system developers.
Challenge 2: Ensuring Data Security and Privacy
As data is increasingly exposed to open networks, data security and privacy become key issues that must be addressed in the IoT. Connected devices will access other networks, extending the network border. This means that the increase in number of access points makes the network more vulnerable to attacks. In addition, these open networks connect not just computers and mobile phones; household items that are intimately related to personal routines, such as refrigerator, car, and health devices, are now connected as well. If data from these devices is leaked or hacked, the impact to society will be severe. Therefore, ensuring user privacy is crucial in the IoT era.
Challenge 3: Processing the Large Amounts of Data Generated by the IoT
The massive network of connections and sensors that make up the IoT generates large amounts of data 24/7. Such data is usually heterogeneous and complex to handle. In addition, uncertainties inherent to the data, semantic matching, and query and analysis all contribute to the challenge of data management. The IoT is an ocean of networks as well as an ocean of generated data, from where information needs to be extracted, analyzed, and then evaluated for decision making purposes. The key to fulfilling these purposes is improvement or innovation in technologies and methods that efficiently manage and handle IoT-generated data.